A Regional Vision with Life – Changing Impact

Logo_Copy
Stara Gleash with instructors Kory Anderson (left) and Rob Behnke

Great anticipation came with the opening of our new Wautoma Regional Center in 2018. Located adjacent to Wautoma High School, the relocated and expanded facility offers several dual credit options for high school students and other programs unique to the needs of that region, including manufacturing, business, construction, and health care.

After meeting with local officials to discuss ways to tackle unemployment in the region, the transportation sector came into play. In 2019, we brought our truck driver training to the greater Wautoma area as a way to offer opportunities for a rewarding career in just 10 weeks to more people. That investment and vision have helped several students hit the road with a new direction, including Stara Gleash—the only woman to complete the program in Wautoma thus far. This single mother was able to take her classes locally while working full-time.

Stara recently visited the College’s Appleton campus with her son, Isaac, to thank instructors and share her passion for driving around the country and getting paid for doing so. Her pathway is a reminder that listening to the distinct needs of our communities often changes a life or two along the way.

Learn more about Stara’s story HERE>>>.

 

Helping Address Worker Shortages in the Aviation Industry

The current aviation job market is at an historical high.  A recent study conducted by Boeing indicates that over the next 20 years, North America alone will need more than 200,000 new pilots and almost as many aircraft maintenance technicians.  As a local example, one of our College partners, Air Wisconsin Airlines, is looking to hire approximately 250 pilots per year for the foreseeable future.  Graduates from our Aeronautics Pilot and Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics programs offered in Oshkosh typically enjoy 100% employment rates within the aviation industry.

In recent years, we have doubled enrollment in the Airframe and Powerplant program by adding an evening option.  And two years ago our staff made several key systemic changes to our Aeronautics programs and Flight Department operations.  These changes, combined with growing industry demands, have yielded significant increases in student retention and new student enrollment, both of which have led to tripling our student pilot enrollments and quadrupling the number of graduates.

Our Board recently approved a strategic investment to support continued capacity expansion and do what we can to help address this industry need.  I’m very proud of how proactive our staff has been in identifying and addressing a challenge, and proud of our Board for supporting this investment.

 

Great Opportunity for Entrepreneurial Veterans

It was great to welcome to campus Governor Evers and Secretary Mary Kolar of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs last week for a check presentation to the FVTC Foundation.  Thanks to the generous support of the WI DVA, almost $100,000 will fund new cohorts of veterans in an “Innovation Accelerator” program offered by our Venture Center.  This program is designed to provide entrepreneurial training and technical support, networking opportunities, one-to-one mentoring and seed funding for start-up/growth expenses for veteran-owned businesses.

We are very pleased to be able to continue our partnership with the WI DVA this year in offering Innovation Accelerator to more veterans.  Over the last two years, 37 veterans have completed this customized entrepreneurship training, a group that has gone on to launch 25 successful new businesses and expand 8 existing businesses.

Recently, I crossed paths with one of those businesses – Iron Alliance – which focuses on all aspects of personal health and well-being, including organizational cultures and how leadership factors into a work culture.  Iron Alliance is owned and operated by a couple of very impressive young men trying to make a real difference in people’s lives.  They asked me to be part of their podcast series.  Check out their website at https://www.teamironalliance.com.

And if you’re interested in listing to my Iron Alliance podcast, here’s a link:  https://www.fvtc.edu/news/Story/college-president-on-leadership

 

Tech Ed Teacher Shortage

A new degree program that will assist in meeting an urgent need was recently approved unanimously by the UW Board of Regents. The new major, “Technology and Engineering Education” at UW Oshkosh, is designed to address a critical shortage of K-12 technical education teachers.

What’s unique about this program is that it includes completion of an associate degree (AAS) in one of our technical education fields as its foundation. The work on this academic partnership has been underway for a few years, and this program will be open to students this fall. Congratulations to the UW Oshkosh and FVTC leaders who have worked to champion this development!

If you know of anyone holding an AAS degree from FVTC in a technical field such as electronics, automation, or mechanical design, etc., and interested in pursuing a teaching career, be sure to let them know about this program.  It would also be an excellent educational path for a recent high school graduate interested in becoming a Tech Ed K-12 teacher.

Impact of Technical Colleges

Dr. May - WHBY Interview Cropped

Last month I had the opportunity to once again participate in a WHBY radio interview, share information about the technical college system, and discuss some of FVTC’s work here in the region.  It was great to join Hayley Tenpas as part of her Focus Fox Valley program.  I’ve linked the segment here if you’d like to listen! https://www.whby.com/2019/06/27/83532/

A Degree Closer to Home

On Monday I had a chance to visit with our staff at the Clintonville Regional Center.  That group of staff has led the way on a project of the last year or so to identify all of the College’s degree programs that could be undertaken at that location through a combination of in-person or online courses, making access to our degree programs as convenient as possible for the residents of the Clintonville area.  In that region as of today, 13 programs can be fully completed without leaving the community.

Their work has paved the way for this type of analysis and development at each of our regional locations – in addition to Clintonville, it has expanded to Chilton, Waupaca, Wautoma, and to Oshkosh.  Not only have staff begun to promote these available options to students and the respective communities, but our website has also been enhanced to include a location search function to include these degree completion options on the “Explore All Programs” page.

With essentially full employment, today’s working adults have little time to spare.  Making higher education opportunities as convenient, accessible, affordable, and doable while working full time is just essential.  My hope is these “close to home” options for many people in our District communities will be helpful to their pursuit of continuing education.  If you know of anyone who could benefit from a new or enhanced career direction, please let us know – we’d love to help open that world of possibilities!

 

Entrepreneurs – An Economic Force

nacce-full-logo-full-color-1000x170

This is National Entrepreneurship Week, an annual designation that was congressionally chartered in 2006.  At that time, our congressional leaders recognized entrepreneurs as a key source of economic innovation throughout the history of our nation.  I certainly tip my hat to all of the entrepreneurs and small business owners across our region for all that they bring to the vitality of our communities!

I’m also very pleased to serve as the Board Chair for the National Association of Community Colleges for Entrepreneurship (NACCE – https://www.nacce.com).  Our member colleges all across North America are very committed to supporting both students and community members in exploring, launching or growing businesses in the communities we serve.  And as important, we are deeply engaged in continuing to develop as entrepreneurial colleges to maximize the programs, services and support we can offer our constituents.

Here’s to the entrepreneurial spirit in both business and education!  Is there an outstanding local entrepreneur you’d like to acknowledge this week?  Would love to hear about them.